Pythagoras: His Life and Teaching, a Compendium of Classical Sources

Pythagoras: His Life and Teaching, a Compendium of Classical Sources by James Wasserman, Thomas Stanley, Henry L. Drake, J Daniel Gunther

Book: Pythagoras: His Life and Teaching, a Compendium of Classical Sources by James Wasserman, Thomas Stanley, Henry L. Drake, J Daniel Gunther Read Free Book Online
Authors: James Wasserman, Thomas Stanley, Henry L. Drake, J Daniel Gunther
and hours. The like of a Point, a Line, a Superficies, as we said already.
    Likewise to numbers are correspondent both naturals and artificials. We judge everything by criteria, which are the measures of numbers. If we take away number, we take away the cubit, which consists of two half-cubits, six palms, twenty four digits. We take away the bushel, the balance, and all other criteria, which, consisting of plurality, are kinds of number. In a word, there is nothing in life without it. All art is a collection of comprehensions. Collection implies number; it is therefore rightly said:
    To number all things reference have.
    That is to determinative reason, which is of the same kind with numbers, whereof all consists. Hitherto Sextus.
    The sum of all (as said by Alexander in his Successions, extracted out of the Pythagorean commentaries) is this: the Monad is the principle of all things. 793 From the Monad came the indeterminate Duad. As matter subjected to the cause, Monad; from the Monad and the indeterminate Duad came Numbers. From Numbers came Points. From Points came Lines; from Lines, Superficies; from Superficies, Solids; from these, solid bodies. Solid bodies are composed of four elements: Fire, Water, Air, Earth; of all which, transmutated and totally changed, the world consists.

CHAPTER 1
    O F L IVING , AND A NIMATE C REATURES
    T here penetrates a beam from the Sun through the Aether which is cold and dry. 822 (They call the air, “cold aether,” and the Sun and humidity, “gross aether.”) This beam penetrates to the Abyss, and thereby all things vivificate. All things live inasmuch as they participate of heat (wherefore even plants areliving creatures). But all things have not soul. The soul is a portion of aether, of heat, and cold, for it participates of cold aether. The soul differs from life. She is immortal, because that from which she is taken is immortal. Thus Alexander in his successions, out of the commentaries of the Pythagoreans.

CHAPTER 2
    T HE S YMBOLS OF P YTHAGORAS A CCORDING TO I AMBLICHUS.
    T he last way of exhortation to virtue, and dissuasion from vice, is that by symbols. 905 The first way of teaching being proper to the sect, not communicable to other Institutions; the second vulgar and common to them; the third is between both—neither absolutely public, nor wholly Pythagorean, nor quite different from either. Such are those they term symbols. As many as deserve commemoration, in our opinion, of the exhortatory form, we shall communicate and add a suitable interpretation. We conceive that hereby the exhortation to philosophy may be more prevalent on those that hear them, than if delivered more at large.
    And forasmuch as we shall insert some Exoteric solutions common to all philosophy, it is to be understood as different from the meaning of the Pythagoreans. But inasmuch as we shall intermix some of the most particular opinions of the Pythagoreans consonant to each, this is wholly proper to them and dissonant from all other philosophers, but most fit to be alleged. This will insensibly lead us from the exoteric notions, bringing us to the others, and acquainting us with them. And to the exhortations framed according to this sect as a bridge or ladder by which we ascend from a depth to a great height, guiding the minds of those who addict themselves genuinely thereto.
    For to this end it was framed, according to imitation of the things already mentioned. For the most ancient and such as were contemporary with and disciples to Pythagoras did not compose their writings intelligible, in a common vulgar style, familiar to everyone, as if they endeavored to dictate things readily perceptible by the hearer. But consonant to the silence decreed by Pythagoras concerning divine mysteries, which it was not lawful to speak of before those who were not initiated. They therefore clouded both their mutual discourses and writings by symbols; which—if not expounded by those that proposed them by a regular

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